Written by Thapelo Seleke
East side of Madikwe in the middle of no where, there is life that breaths, eats and sleeps, a home to one of the most adorable but yet ugliest wild animals – with their slopey bodies and intimidating laughter (that they use as mechanism to confuse mostly lions when trying to steal their meal) doesn’t help the ugly hyena stereotype.
There’s is a home with four rooms and an outdoor toilet, a little bush that provides all the comforts of home to a family of 14 hyenas, eight adults and four cute little cubs. There used to be three young teenagers, now down to two as one was sadly attacked and killed by lions during play time while the parents were not around to supervise them.
It was a hot sweltering Sunday in the bush and during a brief visit with guests from Jaci’s Lodges to Phiri Legae (home of the hyenas), we spotted them peacefully sleeping under the shade of the trees surrounding their four dug-out holes in which these spotted hyena have made their home. Suddenly a roar from miles away echoes close by, and we watch as it inflicts fear to the ears and eyes of young cubs and their mothers.
The hyenas began to stumble up with their ears pricked and noses sniffing at the air, searching for clues as to where the roaring could possibly be coming from, meanwhile the young cubs scattered into the dug-out rooms for safety.
The adult hyenas soldiered on determined to figure out where the lions may be so that they could chase them away from their home.
Through each hole, we caught a glimpse of three pairs of black shinny eyes, dark with fear for their lives and that of their mothers, it almost looked like they were weeping.
But the roar was echoing from a distance and one of the alpha females returned safely to check on the babies, all cubs began to come out curiously looking out for each other, the others soon joined in and the family continued to enjoy their Sunday, carefully laying their heads back down on the dust, but ready to protect their cubs at any cost.
It was then that I had a profound realisation, that deep down inside, I empathised with these creatures and that life in the wild is just as life amongst men and civilisation; we live to protect one another as a family because every life among us is precious.
Writer: Thapelo Seleke